Coffee and a Show: Arnaud’s Cafe Brulot
I never understood the whole post-dinner coffee-ritual. At the end of a huge meal, the last thing I ever want is a cup of coffee. That is, until I had coffee at Arnaud’s.
My first upscale meal in New Orleans did not disappoint–Arnauds is an establishment deserving of its place near top of the fine-dining-in-New-Orleans list. My table overlooked the chandelier-strewn, tile-and-mirror fantasy of a room, taken straight out of a film-from-another-time.
The service was–well, I need a word bigger than ‘stellar’. I was attended by three different amazing men–Charles, the Maitre’d, Rick, my server, and Gordon, the bus-man. I mean, come on–what woman doesn’t like being attended to by three amazing men?
My meal was equally impressive. I started with oysters Arnaud, which is a meal in-and-of itself. After debating over two different dishes–one which was covered in lump crab and one that was not, I was advised by my server that ‘we can put lump crab meat on anything’. Challenge accepted.
And don’t even get me started on the mushroom side dish. Aged parmesan on wild mushrooms? Yes. Yes please. If I ate those mushrooms every single day, I’d be very, very happy. Very fat, yes. But very happy.
Do you know what is also a really great idea? The French 75, a cocktail of courvoisier, lemon, and champagne. It’s a really, really good idea.
But it was the coffee that blew me away.
Cafe Brulot at Arnaud’s
Now let me be clear on this–I don’t drink coffee. Which makes my love for this after dinner drink even more impressive. As you can see from the photo to the left, this wasn’t an ordinary cup of Joe. Allow me to set the stage…
A server wheels out a cart. The cart contains a gas burner, a copper bowl, and a variety of bottles and carafes.
He pours hot, fresh coffee into the bowl.He turns on the gas. He zests some of the orange into the bowl of coffee. He breaks apart several stick of cinnamon and adds those, too.
He takes out an orange and begins to stud the entire fruit with cloves. He then peels the orange in one solid spiral, allowing it to hang down off of the orange.
At this point, people from other tables are watching intently. The eight-year-old boy at the table next to you has totally turned around in his seat and is openly gaping. You resist the urge to invite said boy over to your table for a better view even though he’s clearly entranced.
The server then takes variety of liquors–curacao and brandy–and pours them over the orange. He dips the peel down into the gas burner and the entire things lights on fire, the liquor drizzling down over the clove-studded orange. The oils in the orange heat up, mingle with the liquor, and dribble down into the coffee.
The steaming concoction–in effect a smoky, mulled coffee–is then served in a sugar-rimmed glass goblet. Honestly, this is a drink fit for the halls of Hogwarts.
I’ve had my share of drinks in New Orleans, and this may just be the most memorable one so far. I would return to Arnaud’s just for the coffee alone. Oh–and the oysters. And the mushrooms. Ok–I’d happily return to Arnaud’s for yet another decadent meal. After all, this is New Orleans. If you’re not feeling gluttonous, you’re doing something wrong.
Arnaud’s is located on Bienville between Bourbon and Dauphine, two blocks off of Canal in the French Quarter. The Cafe Brulot, which is prepared for two or more diners, is $8 per person. But remember to tip your server–he did, after all, just play with fire for your amusement.
Disclosure statement: While I was hosted by Arnauds, all opinions are, as always, my own.